Dengue or any other mosquito-borne diseases shouldn’t be underestimated. A total of 79 deaths were reported in Malaysia out of the 46,607 cases as of 11 May 2019. This only shows that your family is at risk.
A report by the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers shows that the most affected regions include Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Johor. Dengue occurs nationally, with increased risk in urban and periurban areas. Peak transmission occurs in the late monsoon season (October through February in east peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak; July through August in west Peninsular Malaysia).
How is dengue transmitted?
Dengue fever is caused by a virus, it is a disease worldwide that affects subtropical and tropical countries like Malaysia. Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the increase was also because of the lack of immunity to the changes in the dengue virus type among Malaysians. Dengue cases are expected to increase this year due to the changes in weather and the dengue strains.
The WHO explains that dengue causes severe flu-like illness to humans. The full life cycle of dengue fever virus involves the role of female Aedes Aegypti mosquito as a transmitter (or vector) and humans as the main victim and source of infection.
The viruses are passed on to humans through the bites of an infective female Aedes mosquito, which mainly acquires the virus while feeding on the blood of an infected person.
Who is at risk for dengue?
Dengue affects infants, children and adults alike and could be fatal. The clinical features of dengue fever vary according to the age of the patient.
The younger or the older the person is, the more at risk he/she is.
What are the symptoms to watch out for?
There is a 4-10 days incubation period after the first bite before the first symptom happens. If for example you have been bitten by an infected mosquito on 1 June, you will see the symptoms as early as 4 June or as late as 11 June.
Symptoms usually last for 2-7 days which include:
- Sudden onset of fever for two to seven days
- Severe headache with pain behind the eye
- Joint and muscle pain
- Skin rash
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bleeding from the nose or gums
- Easy bruising in the skin
If you experienced signs of Dengue on 11 June, you will experience the symptoms for the next 2 days or as long as 1 week which is 18 June.
What are the warning signs of Dengue Fever
- Abdominal pain or tenderness
- Persistent vomiting
- Fluid accumulation in the lung or abdominal spaces
- Mucosal bleed
- Restlessness or lethargy
- Liver enlargement >2 cm
When to consult a doctor?
If you are unwell and showing symptoms suggestive of dengue, you are advised to seek medical attention early. The MOH advises that you should be referred for admission when you experience the symptoms with warning signs, bleeding manifestations, inability to tolerate oral fluids, signs of dehydration or any organ failure.
What is the treatment for Dengue Fever?
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever, or its more serious forms, dengue haemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome. This means that treatment is supportive according to the symptoms experienced by the person.
How about for severe cases? You may be hospitalised for immediate and aggressive emergency treatment, including fluid and electrolyte replacement, and/or blood transfusions for bleeding or hemorrhagic form.
How to prevent Dengue Fever?
Getting rid of mosquito breeding sites and spraying of insecticides to control the adult mosquito population remain key to dengue prevention.
Take meticulous measures to prevent mosquito bites during the daytime:
- Use a repellent containing 20%-30% DEET or 20% Picaridin on exposed skin. Re-apply according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Wear neutral-coloured (beige, light grey) clothing. If possible, wear long-sleeved, breathable garments.
- If available, pre-soak or spray outer layer clothing and gear with permethrin.
- Get rid of water containers around dwellings and ensure that door and window screens work properly.
- Apply sunscreen first followed by the repellent (preferably 20 minutes later).
More dengue awareness and your active participation in maintaining the cleanliness of the surroundings of your homes will help the spread of dengue fever. Malaysia’s health agency will also beef up its efforts and mobilise the Community Behavioural Impact (Combi) team to control dengue by fogging and using a larvicide to kill the pest.
How to keep your home dengue-free? The known quote, “Prevention is better than cure” is no doubt the best way to maintain your family’s health and keeping your home dengue-free
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Sources: IAMAT, Outbreak News Today, The Star, WHO, MOH